Keith Aoki, UCD professor and public domain crusader, 1955-2011

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Keith Aoki, the Professor of Law from UCD’s King Hall who was known for his ability to turn “his artistic talents into a powerful tool for battling overzealous copyright laws,” died this past April at the age of 55. Professor Aoki earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree in fine art and drew underground cartoons in New York City before enrolling at Harvard Law School. After graduating, Mr. Aoki practiced law, focusing on technology law, for 2 years in Boston before moving on to a teaching career at the University of Oregon and UC Davis. Mr. Aoki was a strident and creative defender of digital freedom. He is known for his briefs defending the non-profit Electronic Frontier Foundation and Bound by Law? Tales From the Public Domain (Duke U. Press, 2006), a cartoon he wrote and illustrated about a documentary filmmaker confronting copyright restrictions as she attempts to make a film.

The UCD School of Law is conducting a memorial for Aoki — “Remembering Keith Aoki” — on May 26 at 3:00 pm in King Hall. Additional tributes on Professor Aoki: the School of Law at UC Davis, The Public Domain and The Chronicle of Higher Education.

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